PDVSA to Up San Tome Output to 1Bf3/d within 5 Years

In an effort to boost natural gas output in eastern Venezuela's San Tome district from the current 150 million cubic feet a day to 1 billion cubic feet a day (Bf3/d) within five years, state oil firm PDVSA will invest US$1bn in five blocks in the area with collective reserves of 6.3-6.5 trillion cubic feet, PDVSA said in a statement.

Energy and oil minister and PDVSA president Rafael Ramirez said San Tome in Anzoategui state has accumulated such a massive amount of gas over the years thanks to its own natural deposits and 40 years of re-injection by oil companies.

"It's a sure shot and when I say a sure shot I mean it literally, you shoot a hole in the ground and you get natural gas coming out," the official told reporters.

"Of course, inland E&P is easier," Ramirez said when asked if his company was undertaking the San Tome effort only because offshore E&P had proven so much more difficult. However, he reiterated PDVSA was committed to such offshore projects as Mariscal Sucre and Plataforma Deltana. "When you talk about Sucre, you're talking about something 200 miles offshore and 150 meters underwater. So, if you're asking me if this is easier, the answer is yes," he said.

Ramirez said the gas from San Tome is to cover two basic needs: the domestic market, where PDVSA has said there is a deficit of about 1.4Bf3/d for goals such as increased thermal generation; and projects like Gran Gasoducto del Sur, the US$25bn gas pipeline planned with Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia.

PDVSA Gas president Anibal Rosas said his company will be the sole operator in San Tome and not seek outside investors.

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